The darkest days of the year are upon us here in the Northern hemisphere, so our thoughts turn to Christmas and our hopes and dreams for the perfect garden and plot next year. However, if you're fed up of curling up in front of the fire and fancy something a bit more outdoorsy, then the You Ask, We Answer team have found the following gems to whet your appetite.
Anytime: Want to blow away those winter blues and cobwebs? Getting out for a brisk walk during the daylight hours, particularly on a cold, crisp, clear morning could be the perfect antidote. Here's some ideas of where to go.
Throughout December - Christmas Markets, Fairs and Fayres. Many of our towns and cities hold some kind of Christmas market, usually in early December. I've had the pleasure of attending events in Bath, Birmingham, Bristol, York and the Eden Project so far. This website has details of all of these, plus all others in the UK and much further afield in Europe and the USA. A great way to get in the festive mood.
Until 8th December: The Mistletoe Festival in Tenbury Wells continues. Mistletoe auctions will be held on December 1st and 8th, and the Mistletoe Queen will be crowned on December 5th. If you're buying fresh mistletoe for your decorations this year, it's likely to have come from here.
5-6th: Tree Dressing Day. A new 'tradition' started by Common Ground in 1990, to celebrate our trees by decorating them on the first full weekend in December. Note that these decorations are not usually Christmas ones, though judging by what happens in Chippenham, it's also the time when most people put theirs up.
8th: Holy Thorn Ceremony, Glastonbury. The eldest pupil at St. John's School will cut the branch from the legendary winter flowering Glastonbury Thorn, which will be sent to the Queen as a Christmas greeting.
21st: Winter Solstice. Be of good cheer, the days will be getting longer from now on :)
25th: Happy Christmas everyone!
26th: Boxing Day aka St. Stephens Day in Ireland. The traditional starting day for pantomimes and for mummers plays to be performed. Marshfield's is the closest one I know of and other ones not far away from here are at Gloucester and Langport.
31st: New Year's Eve. Hogmanay in Scotland is the event tonight. However, if you want to party in Edinburgh, you'll need to get your tickets in advance. Here's all the details you need. If you're looking for something more dramatic, then Stonehaven's Fireballs Festival could be just the thing. Across the border in Northumberland, there's also flaming tar barrels in Allendale, a tradition dating back to medieval times.